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Jesus is the one in authority

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Jesus is the one in authority

Jesus is the one in authority!
, And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”
And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”
The Gospels are all about Jesus. And yet it’s very easy to lost sight of Him and focus all our sermons and bible study lessons on something else that is not really of primary importance. As we look at , we see three descriptions of Jesus performing miracles, and there are many rabbit trail to take here. Because the three events are recorded in this section of Scripture are so breathtaking. From Jesus calming the storm, to the healing of the demon possessed men, and the healing and forgiving of a crippled sinner. But pastor, what’s the point in these three passages? The point is that Jesus is the one who has authority! He has authority over creation, authority over cosmic demons and authority over the consequences of sin and forgiveness. Jesus is the one in authority!
Let us pray…
For the second time in this section of his Gospel Matthew brings three miracles before us. He is emphasizing the authority and power of over creation, carnal demons and the consequences of sin and forgivness.
Authority over creation
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
Mark and Luke both share this story with Matthew and as usual Matthew has the shortest account. Only twenty-one of his seventy-three words in the passage are in common with Mark and twenty-three with Luke, so the resemblances are not close. But despite that fact there are still no major differences on important points.
For example, the other two have no equivalent of Matthew’s powerful statement Why are you afraid, O you of little faith? while they have the boat filling with water Matthew has it covered with the waves. These are the most formidable differences in the story. The other two have the story in teaching contexts, but Matthew uses it as part of the way in which he brings out the authority and the power of Jesus. In his famous treatment of the story
23. Matthew has told us that Jesus had given a command to go to the other side (v. 18); now he tells us that Jesus embarked and that the disciples followed him. Disciples here refers to the Twelve, not to all those who followed Jesus. The possessive “his” shows that he is differentiating the disciples of Jesus from those of other teachers. Notice that Matthew refers not to “a” boat, but to the boat. It seems that he had a definite boat in mind, but we have no way of knowing what that signified. On the entering into the boat Hill comments, “the disciples ‘follow’ Jesus: the story of the storm is concerned with discipleship.” Does Jesus have the authority in your life to ask you to follow Him into the storms of your life?
24. And behold, which means to look, which is Matthew’s characteristic way of making all things vivid. The word is “horao,” meaning to see with the eyes, to see with the mind, to perceive, to experience, and to take heed. , But as he considered these thing, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew’s word for storm is unusual; it is the word “seismos,” it more commonly refers to an earthquake or the like. It is a vivid word and, reinforces idea of great turbulence, and brings out the magnitude of the storm event. Luke calls this sheet of water a “lake,” but Matthew always refers to it as a sea. It is about 700 feet below sea level, and the winds sweep down through the steep ravines that run into it to whips up tumultuous and sudden storms. On this occasion the storm was such that the boat was covered by the waves, the only place in the New Testament where a boat is said to be covered by waves. The meaning is that when the boat was in the trough between the waves, those waves towered over it, completely concealing it from view. It is certainly surprising that in a storm of the magnitude described by Matthew that anyone could stay asleep. But Jesus had had a very heavy day with healing and teaching, and dealing with potential disciples. Wearied as he was with all his labor, he fell asleep and remained asleep despite the magnitude of the storm, but Jesus could rest because He has authority over the storm.
25. So they came to him (Mark tells us that he was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion) and they woke him. Matthew has a terse, four-word expression, “Save us Lord, we-perish.” Matthew alone has the disciples address Jesus as “Lord” here (the disciples characteristically address Jesus as “Lord” in this Gospel, as in, as do those who are coming to believe in him. And Matthew alone has the word save. The lack of any mention of what they want to be saved from injects a note of urgency into their plea.
The verb perish (in times) is used of disasters of various kinds, which may explain the variety in translations (e.g., REB, “we are sinking”; JB, “we are going down”; GNB, “we are about to die”; and “we are drowning!”). The present tense states the process as already in progress; it is a cry of anguish.
26. In Mark and Luke Jesus stills the storm immediately, but Matthew concerns himself first with the words Jesus addressed to the stricken disciples: “Why are you afraid?” His word is often used in the sense of “cowardly” or “timid” (REB has “Why are you such cowards?”); it indicates more than a slight nervousness. Why because most of these men were fishermen, they were well versed in the storms on the Sea of Galilee, and the fact that they were so afraid indicates the magnitude of the tempest. It is also significant that, when the skill of the sailors was unavailing, they called on one whose training had been in the carpenter’s shop; clearly he had impressed them so greatly that it was natural to turn to him in a crisis. Jesus goes on to characterize them as you of little faith, Jesus is not saying that they were men of not faith, but of ineffective faith, deficient faith, immature faith. Jesus signifies that, while the storm was no doubt a great one, they might well have trusted more. This may mean either that they should have trusted God or that they should have trusted him. Having dealt with the troubled disciples, Jesus turned to the boisterous winds and the troubled sea and rebuked them. This is a somewhat surprising verb and perhaps indicates that Jesus saw an evil force in the tempest that put him and his disciples in peril. He deals with that force as sovereign over it in full authority. The result of the rebuke was a great calm (“it became perfectly calm,” NASB). Matthew does not describe a gradual diminution of the force of the winds and the waves, but a sudden cessation of all the storm’s activity, so that everything was peaceful. Jesus was showing them that He had the same authority that God had shown in .
, The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows and scattered them; lightning, and routed them. Then the channels of the sea were seen; the foundations of the world were laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.
and the Most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows and scattered them; lightning, and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen; the foundations of the world were laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.
We are not to think that the storm had blown itself out, but that Jesus had power over the elements and replaced tempest with calm.
27. The men marveled, means the men in the boat were in duly impressed. Impressed to see as the divine figure of Jesus taking authority of creation: ‘who is this man that even the seas obey? Matthew certainly contrasts the majesty of Jesus with the powerlessness of his followers. Those in the boat were in no doubt that a mighty miracle had taken place. Many of them, were familiar with the Sea of Galilee and its moods, and they knew that this was not the way this stretch of water behaved.
They were astonished at His authority.
, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Jesus is the one with authority over creation.
Jesus has authority over canal demoniacs
And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
This is another story this triple tradition, and again Matthew has the shortest account and Mark the fullest. The principal differences between Matthew and the others is that he speaks of two demoniacs and they of one. In our day there is a problem in accepting that the demons entered the pigs, and in the end we must understand that every Word of Scripture is true. The Bible teaches us this; from Peter “We ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (). This account with the demons and the pigs are all three accounts, its God’s word and we cannot dismiss it.
Yet, we should notice that demon possession is rare if it occurs at all in the Old Testament, and there are very few examples after the Gospels. In the Bible demon possession is part of the upsurge of evil opposing Jesus in the time of his incarnation.
28 He the verse starts with the words, ‘ And when he came to the other side…’ Matthew explains that this was the country of the Gadarenes. Our best understanding is that Matthew is referring to Gadara and that the territory ruled from this city extended to the lake. We should notice that Matthew says ‘… to the country of the Gadaerenes, that refers to a settlement established in the territory of the main city. It was a predominantly Gentile region, as is shown by the reference to the herd of pigs, which would not be found in a Jewish area.
Upon landing Jesus encounters two demoniacs. Matthew says that the two were coming out of the tombs. They would not have been literally in the tombs; the reference may be to “the little ante-chambers in front of the ‘rooms’ in which bodies were laid.” Matthew tells us that they were exceedingly violent, ‘that they were so fierce that no one could pass that way.’ Their demon possession made them a menace to society. The fierceness of their attacks made it impossible for people to make ordinary use of that road. 29 Matthew returns to his statement of “behold” to point out the reception received by the appearance of Jesus. The demoniacs cried out; yes, “At once they screamed”), but here they scream out meaningful words. “What have you to do with us?” Literally this means “What to you and us?” and indicates that the demoniacs see no common ground between themselves and Jesus. The demoniacs have an understanding of the nature of Jesus not very common at the time, for they address him as Son of God. It was not used very often by the Jews as a messianic designation, but in the world of the day the title was common in myths and the like and sometimes was even used of great men. It was an exalted title, and at the very least it shows that the demoniacs sensed that Jesus belonged with God in a way that others do not and that because of that relation he might be expected to do things that ordinary people could not do.
Their next question is most important, ‘Have you come here to torment us before the time?’
This raises the question of the meaning of here. Did they mean “here to this earth” or “here to this Gentile land”?
Their recognition of Jesus as Son of God makes the former somewhat more likely. They go on immediately to refer to torment before the time; clearly they understand that Jesus has the authority to torment them and place them under submission.
As demons they expect torment in hell as their ultimate fate, but not torment here and not torment now, before the time. This last word may be used in a variety of ways, but there is little doubt that here it signifies the end time, the time of judgment with its punishment of wickedness it indicates “the appointed time”, when the devil and his helpers will be cast into hell.
, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ The demons recognized that their ultimate fate would be unpleasant, but they did not want it to come any more quickly than was necessary.
30 Matthew pauses to set the scene. He speaks of some pigs some distance from them all. Matthew tells us that there were many pigs in the herd; and their were feeding, which indicates a normal, peaceful occupation. There was nothing to indicate imminent trouble from the animals.
31 Matthew pictures the demons, not the men, as speaking, though presumably they spoke through the men’s lips. There is a note of urgency, but also of respect, as they make their request to Jesus (they besought him). ‘ If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs…’ Their request to cast them out, leaves little doubt that they thought Jesus had the authority would do this and would. They request that in that eventuality Jesus would send them into the pigs. There is no indication of why they wanted to enter the pigs from the demons. But we may reflect that unclean animals would be suitable dwellings for unclean spirits.
32 Jesus told them to leave the men. Go, so He orders them out and they go not because of consensus but because of the command of Jesus. Jesus does address the needs of the demoniacs but His basic concern was for the well-being of the men. Matthew tells us that the demons came out, then that they went into the pigs. Again he uses his vivid word ‘behold’, which leads to the information that the whole herd bolted down a steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. Moreover, this is the one occasion on which demons are said to enter beings other than people. We can at least say that this visual demonstration of the exit of the demons must have been of great value to the formerly “possessed.”
33 Now the attention moves to the herdsmen’s who fled into the city and told all that had happen. What happened scared them, and they took refuge in flight. The city was the place where the pigs’ owners were and, being the center of population, would be the place to which the herdsmen would naturally go. There they told their exciting story, and told it completely (everything). There is probably no doubt that they told it all in such a manner that they were exonerated from all blame for the loss of the pigs they were minding; they would have insisted that it was all Jesus’ fault. An interesting little problem centers on They told “everything, namely what happened to the demon-possessed men.
34 For the third time in this story and the fifth time in this chapter Matthew has his vivid “and behold”. After the hearing of the story the whole town was impressed; all the people came out to meet Jesus. It might have been expected that they would want to welcome the man who had power and authority over the demons and who had brought such spectacular and unexpected deliverance to the demon possessed in their own area. But this was not the case. They were evidently more concerned with their economic loss. Mark and Luke say that the people came out and saw the healed demoniac, but Matthew omits this. Since he is concerned with Jesus and His authority, he speaks only of their meeting with him. They begged him; the verb has a note of respect, but also of imploring; they left no doubt as to what they urgently wanted. They asked him to leave their region. Matthew gives no reason for this, nor does Mark; Luke says that they were very much afraid. This may have been fear of further economic loss, or fear of such an authoritative figure.
The story leaves us with some unanswered questions. We do not know what demon possession really is, though the New Testament examples make it plain that it is hostile to people’s best interests; it seems always to involve suffering of some sort. Nor can we know what it means for demons to enter animals, or why, when they do, the animals should behave in the way this story says they did. A difficulty of another kind is why Jesus should have permitted the destruction of the herd of pigs. “Permitted” is the word; there is nothing in the narrative to indicate that Jesus deliberately set out to destroy the animals. Matthew does not say that Jesus told the demons to enter the pigs, nor that he sent the pigs into the lake. But at least we can say that this brought to light the real values of the local people: they valued their pigs more than the healing of the demoniacs. It makes us think, what do we value more the work of Jesus or our own economic comfort.
Their request that Jesus leave them makes it plain that they preferred to live on a lower level than the one he was opening up before them. Further, they ignored the benefit conferred on their neighborhood in that two men who had terrorized the district (v. 28) were now normal citizens. How did that compare with the loss of their pigs? And the wonderful thing is the way the compassion of Jesus for those poor, tormented men shines through. Nobody else in their day did anything for them, but Jesus liberated them from their dreadful bondage. Why? Because Jesus has authority over carnal demoniacs and the demonic forces that seek to torment us.
Jesus has authority over the consequences of sin and forgiveness.
And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”
This is another story that is found in both Mark and Luke, and characteristically Matthew’s account is the shortest. He has 126 words, whereas Mark has 196 and Luke 212. Matthew’s most significant omission is the lowering of the sick man through the roof. This healing shows once more the importance of faith and the authority of Jesus over sin and forgiveness. However, on this occasion, Jesus declares the forgiveness of the sins of the man before the healing. This provokes opposition, and Jesus demonstrates his authority over sin by declaring sins forgiven by healing the man. Matthew’s story enables him to put greater emphasis on forgiveness. Until now Matthew has said little about opposition to Jesus, but there is opposition to him in all the miraculous works of our Savior.
This incident follows on the healing of the Gadarene demoniacs. So Jesus gets back in the boat for the return voyage.
Matthew simply says that he crossed over without telling what it was that he crossed. But the context makes it clear that it is the Sea of Galilee that is in mind. Jesus came to his own city, of Galilee. It was this city rather than Nazareth that is called his own indicates that he now lived in the lakeside community which was the center for his ministry.
2 Matthew’s favorite way of introducing a vivid touch, the words ‘and behold’ appear again. In this house a man is brought to Jesus to be healed. The man was a paralytic he was being carried. He was lying, on a bed, meaning a portable bed, a “mat.” None of the Evangelists indicates that either the bearers or the man asked Jesus for healing. Not a word from them is recorded; the plight of the man and what they looked for from Jesus were obvious enough without words. Jesus saw their faith, though Matthew does not say how he saw it. Mark and Luke, with their fuller narratives, tell us that the bearers made a hole in the roof and lowered the man in front of Jesus, a striking demonstration of their deep conviction that Jesus could and would heal their friend. Yet their faith can still be seen in just the sheer act of bring their friend to Jesus knowing that Jesus knows what to do in any situation. , Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Here the concerned is trust in Jesus as the healer of those in need of physical healing and the authority of Jesus to grant spiritual healing as well.
The reference to the faith of the bearers cannot just be confined to these friends; it was clearly shared by the paralytic himself. Jesus spoke to him rather than to those who had brought him. He begins with encouragement: “Take heart” Matthew alone has this word of encouragement), and addressed the man as “my son,” a warm and friendly form of address that must have encouraged a man in dire need. Then Jesus said, “your sins are forgiven,” words that must have astounded everybody. It is interesting that Jesus begins by ignoring the man’s physical need and grants him forgiveness. The tense points to a gift now: Jesus is not pointing to a future time when the forgiveness would take place. Sins are a comprehensive term, including all the man’s departures from the way of righteousness. Now the man has nothing to fear—all his sins are gone. In the early part of this Gospel we were told that Jesus would save his people from their sins (1:21), but this is the first occasion when we read of his giving anyone forgiveness. Indeed, it is the only occasion in this Gospel when Jesus forgives a specific individual.
3. Again those vivid words and behold’ introduces something new. What Jesus said set some of the scribes thinking. ‘And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” They were the experts in the law, and the law was ecclesiastical as well as civil. If there was to be any question of forgiveness they were the ones to decide it, or so they would have thought. They were disturbed by Jesus’ words, but they did not speak out against him: they spoke to themselves. Matthew is talking about what went on inside them, their inward reflection on a most unusual saying. We should probably discern a note of contempt in “This man” (NASB reads “this fellow”), and the most serious accusation possible is expressed in the verb is blaspheming. There was a good deal of discussion among the Jews as to precisely what constituted blasphemy, but it was laid down in the Mishnah that “ ‘The blasphemer’ is not culpable unless he pronounces the Name itself” (Sanh. 7:5; in 7:4 we find that the punishment for blasphemy was stoning). As the scribes saw it, for Jesus to forgive sins was assuming the divine prerogative; indeed, in both Mark’s and Luke’s accounts they ask who can forgive sins but God alone. That was what concerned them. They viewed Jesus as no more than another Galilean, someone within ordinary human limits. For such a person to claim to bestow forgiveness was for them nothing less than blasphemy.
4 But though they said nothing out loud, Jesus knew what they were thinking. He first asked them a question, “Why do you think evil in our heart?” This invites them to examine their motivation. Jesus castigates their thoughts as evil things. Here it is more likely to be confined to thinking badly of Jesus. Jesus passes by what is merely on the surface and asks about their innermost being. It is there that the trouble lies.
5 Jesus goes on to a further inquiry. He sets before them two statements and asks the scribes which is the easier to affirm. His first is the statement he made when he forgave the paralytic’s sins (v. 2), while the second introduces a new dimension into the situation, “Get up and walk.” The obvious answer is that it is easier to say that sins are forgiven, for it is impossible for the bystanders to confirm or refute what has been said, whereas when a paralyzed man is told to get up and walk anybody can see whether the command is obeyed or not. On a deeper level, however, it is the second statement that is the easier: a healer can say that, but it takes deity really to forgive sins.
6 Jesus goes on to demonstrate that he can say both things. He has already pronounced the paralytic’s sins forgiven, and he now goes on to heal him. So that introduces the thought of purpose; the healing is, of course, in order to overcome the man’s disability and open to him a whole new way of living, but it is also in order that the scribes may enlarge their horizon. Some of the translations bring this out by introducing the notion of proof: ‘But that you make know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ now there can be no question but that Jesus refers to His “official” capacity. He is the man from Nazareth, but he is also the Son of man, and it is as the Son of man that he has the right to forgive. It is his authority that gives Him right to forgive. The words ‘on earth’ brings out two points: the Son of man is not adequately accounted for by his earthly manifestation; there is that about him that refers to heaven, not earth. And even here on earth he has the right to forgive sins. Jesus does not deny the scribes’ premise that only God can forgive sins, but he invites them to reflect on what that means in the present situation.
Then Jesus turns to the paralytic and commands him, “Get up, take up your bed, and go home.” Jesus is directing the man to his own familiar surroundings.
7 The man did as he was told. Matthew does not say that he took up his bed (Mark and Luke both include this detail), but concentrates on the fact that the former paralytic got up and went off home. Matthew ‘he rose and went home’ the command is really the same. The point being emphasized is that this man who had to be carried to Jesus by four companions was now able to walk back home.
8 Matthew does not tell us what the effect of all this was on the scribes who had been so condescending when Jesus forgave the paralytic’s sins. As often, Matthew uses the plural crowds rather than the singular as he refers to the bystanders generally. These were people who were presumably not particularly well disposed to Jesus. But they were not hostile like the scribes, either. The effect of the miracle on them was that they were awe-struck. They reacted as in the presence of God. The healing of a man who had to be carried by four others was not to be taken as commonplace, and the crowds recognized this. They recognized the hand of God in it all, and they glorified him. They saw that the power that had raised the man from his bed was divine, not human. But they also recognized that God had given this authority to one man, Jesus is the one who has authority.
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